The histories of March Field and Southern California have been intertwined for nearly a century.
Anticipating the need to build up military forces prior to America's entry into World War I, the
Army directed officers stationed in the Los Angeles area to survey Riverside's Alessandro plain for
suitability as a flying training field (a two-day trip by horseback) in late 1917. The base first
opened its gates in March 1918, making it one of the three oldest installations in the Air Force
today, along with Randolph AFB in Texas and Langley AFB in Virginia.
Did you know?
Bob Hope performed his first USO show at March!
For many years March operated primarily as a training installation. Many flyers who went on to
occupy prominent places in Air Force lore flew there, including Hap Arnold, Carl Spaatz, and Curtis
LeMay. During Arnold's tenure as the base commander in the 1930's, he nurtured a relationship with
Hollywood that endures to this day. Bob Hope performed his first USO show at March, and the
American Forces Network Broadcast Center has made its home there for many years. Most recently,
scenes from the movie Eagle Eye
were filmed on base. Flying legend Amelia Earhart made
a stop at March to consult with Air Force officers just prior to departing on her ill-fated attempt to
circumnavigate the globe.
After World War II, March Air Force Base became a West-Coast focus of Strategic Air Command,
hosting some of the service's first B-52's. March and her aircrews sustained operations in Korea and
Vietnam with bombers, refuelers, and fighter aircraft, and supported operations in Panama, the Persian
Gulf, Somalia, and Haiti before it was realigned as a Reserve base in the mid-1990's.
Today, March Air Reserve Base is home to units indispensible to the ongoing war effort in Southwest
Asia and humanitarian efforts around the world. The Air Force Reserve - 452nd Air Mobility Wing
operates C-17A Globemaster III airlifters and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. The California Air National
Guard - 163rd Reconnaissance Wing trains and operates MQ-9 Reaper. Members of Team March fly
and fight on far-flung frontiers every day of the year, dedicated to preserving the safety of their
fellow citizens here at home.
The March Aviation Society is dedicated to serving and supporting these citizen aviators, unsung support
heroes, and their families.